Last week Gary Dzen of Boston.com wrote about the irrational obsessions that fans have with certain players. As expected, he heavily focused on the undying love Boston still has for Kendrick Perkins.
"That Perkins brought his lunch pail-and his scowl-to work every day was enough to keep his name on Boston talk radio years after he left."
Perk isn't the only player that could fit that description though. Whether it's due to their personality or style of play, some players continue to resonate with fans long after they've left the team. Here are the former Celtics that I will be watching this season.
As the face of the Celtics for over a decade, The Truth has to be the most obvious choice to keep tabs on this year. But there are better reasons than just nostalgia to watch him play for the Wizards. Washington is a trendy pick to challenge Cleveland and Chicago in the East, and Pierce definitely plays a role in that. His athleticism is largely gone, but he's adapted remarkably well. He spent a significant amount of minutes playing power forward with the Brooklyn Nets last season. His versatility and impeccable footwork/body control have allowed him to continue to find success. He also has an uncanny ability to make contested shots.
That isn't hyperbole either, last season he literally shot better with a hand in his face. Even Kobe is studying how Pierce has transitioned into the late stage of his career. Hate him or not, that's high praise coming from someone with his work ethic. As long as he's still knocking down daggers like this, I'll never count out Paul Pierce.
Al Jefferson has a masterful post game. In today's NBA, Jefferson is probably the closest thing to Kevin McHale in terms of his arsenal of moves on the block. He almost single handily propped up Charlotte's offense from terrible to bad last season. Given their dearth of outside shooting, that's an accomplishment to be proud of. He gets double teamed constantly, but still manages to average 20 points per game. He might look lumbering and slow, but he's as skilled as any center in the NBA offensively. His exploits with Charlotte alone garnered him an All-NBA selection, and not to mention a host of YouTube compilations to go with it. He's not a defensive stalwart by any means, but his offense more than makes up for that.
As much as I love to watch Sully and Kelly Olynyk bombing 3s, it's nice to see a big man dominate down low occasionally. Considering the makeup of this Celtics team, you might need to tune into some Hornets games to get that experience with any regularity.
Nobody embodies the spirit of his team quite like Tony Allen. Affectionately referred to as the Grindfather, his tenacity and toughness fit in perfectly with the Grizzlies. I've found that verses from Run the Jewels describe his playing style better than I ever could. "So [redacted] grimy, so [redacted] greedy, gritty" provides about a near perfect summation of his defensive tendencies.
Every aspect of his defense is aggressive. Whether he's gambling for steals, chasing after blocks, or just locking down his man, his intensity is evident. Allen affects even the best players in the NBA. Kevin Durant actually admitted that Allen got into his head during the 2014 playoffs. Allen doesn't have astronomical size either, he's just unrelenting on that end of the floor.
My favorite quote of his comes from an interview with Zach Lowe. When asked how he stays with Kevin Durant through a litany of picks and screens, his only response was "You just do it. You don't get screened." Through sheer force of will he's become one of the very best defenders of this era. It's tempting to think about what could have been if Danny Ainge had resigned TA, but he's already provided the perfect answer:
Post- Asked about missed opportunities, Tony Allen responds, "If ifs were fifths, we'd all be drunk." Always miss TA in the offseason #GNG
— Rob Fischer (@thefishnation) May 4, 2014
Green might be the most unexpected reclamation project of the last few years. His brief stint with the Celtics was far from illustrious. Arguably his greatest moment was blowing out a candle in the dunk contest. To be fair he was incredibly raw during his time in Boston, but it still comes as a surprise that he's turned into a useful NBA player.
In stark contrast to Tony Allen, offense is the main attraction here. Green still has his incredible athleticism, but he's paired it with a deadly 3 point shot to form an exciting offensive game. He actually shot a career high 40% from 3 last season. His skill-set combined with his seemingly unlimited confidence gives him the potential to explode for 30+ points in any game. This of course also lends itself to some truly disastrous shooting nights. Either way, Gerald Green has turned into one of the most dynamic and fun to watch players for the Phoenix Suns, which is no small feat.
Number 5 on the list, but number 1 in my heart is the only player mentioned who wasn't a member of the tankapalooza team of 2007. Ricky Davis was a divisive player in Boston though, and pretty much everywhere else too. His notorious attempt at a triple double and his "I thought LeBron James was just going to be another addition to help me score" quote didn't exactly endear him to everyone.
However, I still hold an irrational love for the 2004-05 division championship Celtics team, so I had to make room for his comeback hopes. He's been out of the league since 2010, but he's attempted to to redeem himself in the D league last year. Davis has apparently learned from his mistakes and is itching to get back on the court. The NBA would be more fun with Ricky Davis in it, and that's enough for me to include him on this list.
Which ex-Celtics will you be keeping an eye on this season?